Ready for a little pillow talk? Well, sweetheart, your head just isn’t hitting the pillow enough. Whether it’s the whirlwind demands of life that keep one out late and up early, or the resultant stress that keeps the mind whirring, very few people are getting the recommended seven to nine hours a night. In addition to pragmatic concerns – unsafe driving and unproductive work hours – being tired also makes you, well, a lot less pretty.
The delicate skin under your eyes reflects a lack of slumber in bags and dark circles. Nighttime is the skin’s opportunity to restore and regenerate. For refined texture and a luminous complexion, a preventive spoonful of sleep is much more effective than cosmetic treatments. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced with proper sleep. Cortisol can raise blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as appetite, resulting in fat deposits around the belly. This unfortunately creates a vicious circle, as high cortisol levels make uninterrupted sleep difficult. The growth hormone released during deep sleep can repair these effects. Chubby tummy? Black eyes? Get to bed!
Bedtime offers a great opportunity to indulge in beauty treatments impractical during the day: slather emollient balms on chapped heels and elbows, lotion up the limbs, and use a night crème with vitamins E, C, A, and B-complex to renew your complexion.
Once you’ve embraced the idea of a full night’s sleep, the challenge is creating a relaxing routine that will let you drift away. Rest assured (no pun intended) that you will be less irritable and more lovely once you’re consistently catching Z’s. Observe a few bedtime rules:
· Be consistent. Go to bed at about the same time every night. When daylight savings or travel abroad bullies your internal clock, catch a long nap two or three afternoons to get you back on track. Even if you get in late, set your clock for the same waking time each day.
· Turn out the lights! The darker the room, the more melatonin produced. The hormone is an all-natural nightcap that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Invest in satin Holly Golightly eyeshades if it helps.
· You already know, but a little nagging helps… avoid excess sugar and caffeine, which can buzz your system for up to twelve hours. Though a few cocktails will knock you out, you’re more likely to wake in the middle of the night.
· Keep the room cool. Avoid exercising right before bed, as it raises your body temperature.
· Reduce stress. Easier said than done, right? Do try to make the bedroom a sanctuary just for sleep and other, sexy stress-reducing adventures.
· Eat sensibly. Swinging blood sugar levels and a too-full or too-empty gut guarantee a restless night.
· Keep the media out. The television, laptop, Blackberry, and piles of bills are a big distraction.
· Use white noise. Low, consistent tones, like a bubbling aquarium, are the most soothing.
· Make an investment. Since you spend one-third of your life in bed, it should be as comfy as possible. Smooth, high thread-count sheets like Frette linens, conforming pillows, and cozy down duvets make a fabulous cocoon.
Aromatherapy has become a great option for inspiring slumber. Neroli (an oil from bitter orange blossoms), vanilla, lavender, and myrtle are natural dream makers. Chamomile and warm milk work well in tea or the tub. Origins, for example, offers four helpful products. Float Away milk bath contains sleep-inducing herbs. Resume the Position is a back-to-sleep bedside diffuser that relaxes with a few deep inhalations. Sleep Perchance to Dream is a pillow mist containing a mix of essential oils, and Sleep Time gel delivers drowsiness to the pulse points and the nose.
Stress management and relaxation techniques can help most, but if you’re having fitful nights, there may be medical concerns worth investigating. Persistent insomnia may be a sign of depression, hot flashes, or sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing temporarily stops during sleep. The Snoring Center of Dallas in the Park Cities Medical Plaza and the Sleep Center at Medical City are two great local resources for the diagnosis and treatment of apnea. If you have trouble staying awake during the day, snore loudly, jerk or twitch in the night, or if your partner observes pauses in your sleeping breathing, make an appointment with your physician.
Now turn off the laptop and go get into those jammies!